If you are someone who believes you and a significant other are Common Law married, YOUR RIGHTS MAY NOT BE PROTECTED!
Throughout time our office has encountered many clients and prospective clients seeking rights based on common law marriage but do not understand what is required to establish a valid common law marriage in Texas, and further, do not understand their rights.
In Texas, Common Law Marriage requires a couple
(1) Agree to be married
(2) Live together as husband and wife, and
(3) Told others (hold yourselves out) that you are married.
If these requirements are met, technically you are common law married which offers the same rights and legal consequences or protections as any other legal marriage in Texas. Unfortunately, your rights as Common Law married may not be protected without taking some sort of action.
In short, the following scenarios represent what generally happens:
M and F, we’ll call them “The Commoners”, believe they are common law married but never do anything to establish this legally. ‘The Commoners” meet all requirements of a common law marriage in Texas but nothing more; they simply live their lives.
“The Commoners” live to have kids and gain property throughout time. M was the main source of income, F was the person who raised the kids and took care of home. Sometime down the road, “The Commoners” are considering separation but cannot agree on who gets the kids and whose property is whose.
M now claims no valid marriage existed, such that F is not entitled to any marital benefits! F will now have the burden of proving that a Common Law marriage existed in court, or F will be entitled to nothing.
We will use the same family, “the commoners.” Instead of a separation, this time M dies unexpectantly without a will. Without any record of a Common Law marriage, F will have bear the burden of proving a valid marriage existed or F will not be entitled to any property through intestacy.
Even if M had a will, F may not have been written into the will. could be because the will had not been changed in quite some time, M forgot, or M intentionally left F out. Spouses left out of will’s may have rights in Texas! Thus, F would have the burden of proving to a court that a valid marriage existed in order to be entitled to any rights.
Record you Common Law Marriage!
Preserve your marital rights by filling out and recording a VS-180.1 Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage form prescribed by the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Follow this link to find that form:
If you believe you are Common Law married and have any questions about your rights, call Mingledorff Law right away.